Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints offers update on Salt Lake Temple restoration project

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah, Sept. 25, 2020 (Gephardt Daily) — The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has released an update on the renovation and restoration of the Salt Lake Temple.

“The extensive renovation of the Salt Lake Temple, now in its ninth month, has laid bare much of the foundation stone first set by pioneering Latter-day Saints when the temple was in its infancy in 1853,” a statement from the LDS Church says.

Andy Kirby, director of the renovations, said the project has provided a look into the past.

“It’s special to see those stones,” he said in a prepared statement. “It makes me think of the times in which the stones were laid, the resources that the Saints had during those times and the struggles they were going through.

“Compare it to our days when, yeah, we may be struggling with worldwide pandemics and things like that, but our resources are very different and our technology is different.”

Such a historical perspective is helpful, said Kirk Dickamore of Jacobsen Construction.

“The pioneers had their challenges and issues. They came into the valley. They had to build their homes. They had to plant crops. They had issues that they were dealing with,” he said in the statement. “We, too, have had issues with COVID-19, the (March 2020) earthquake and so forth.”

To look at the construction site is not only to glimpse into the past but also, for those familiar with the immaculate grounds of Temple Square, “to see an unfamiliar world of dirt, rubble and organized chaos,” the statement says.

Over the summer, multiple structures were dismantled and removed to prepare for 40 to 60 feet of excavation.

“In this phase of the construction process, it may look a little bit shocking to some,” Kirby said. “It’s a little bit messy and there’s been significant changes around the temple. But trust that this is a phase and a step (in) the important process of strengthening the temple and preparing it for many generations in the future.”

Debris is meticulously sorted into piles of steel, copper, aluminum, stone and concrete, the statement said. The piles are loaded and sent to recycling plants for repurposing.

“Our effort is to repurpose as many of the materials as possible and to reduce the amount that we send to the landfill,” Kirby says. “We’re doing a great job with that. Our estimates will exceed well the minimum requirements by the city. We’re proud of our efforts to be good stewards of that process.”

With the temple’s foundation stones more exposed, crews are strengthening them to prepare for the installment of the base isolation system, which will help the structure withstand a high-magnitude earthquake. Because the foundation stones are of different sizes — some in better condition than others — workers are drilling three-inch-wide holes at different angles into the foundation footing.

On the north and south walls, these holes go to depths of eight to 14 feet; on the east and west walls, the holes stretch from 10 to 35 feet deep. The holes are then pumped full of high-strength grout, which pushes into the voids and joints of the existing foundation stones, binding them together into a more cohesive structure.

New holes are drilled and fitted with medal rods, which help with seismic stabilization.

The current work of strengthening the foundation — which Kirby said is perhaps the most difficult part of the renovation — will continue through the end of 2020.


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